Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls Situation - Best Day Trips From Chiang Mai, Thailand
Whether you are slow traveling, backpacking or on a family holiday in Thailand, you should not miss out on a day trip to Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls, nearby Chiang Mai. I dare to say it is one of the underrated but praiseworthy things to do in Chiang Mai. Here is why.
Chiang Mai, often referred to as ‘The Rose of the North’ is a magical place where Asian culture is strongly embedded into the everyday life of locals and the surrounding nature will keep you riveted. Finding and moving into our new condo meant we could finally get to explore Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls in the North of Thailand at a convenient time!
For me, this meant not having to rush our day trips and being far more in control of the weather (transition between rainy and dry season can leave you helpless when you find lashing rain pouring over your head in some parts of Thailand!) Luckily, the weather in Chiang Mai is significantly drier than south and somehow it resembles the Mediterranean climate.
We were about a week in after settling in when I started doing some research on potential places to visit. Buddhist temples, Nature Parks, dazzling sunsets, swarming night markets are definitely amongst best things to do in Chiang Mai. Wait, if you haven’t done so yet, I recommend you add waterfalls to your Thailand bucket list. In case you wondered what to do in Chiang Mai, check out our article listing best things to do in Chiang Mai here.
Speaking of the waterfalls, there are tons of them in Thailand, with some scoring more points than others. Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls has its own charm. In case you wonder what’s so special about it, check out the pictures below and soon also a compilation video. It should fully justify why I said so and inspire you to visit it too.
Thailand tourism is heavily focused on its virgin beaches so you won’t find this secret spot in most touristic catalogues or guides but there is sufficient information to be found online.
Where Does The ‘Sticky’ Name In Bua Thong Sticky Waterfall Come From?
Known mainly to the locals, expats and nature lovers, this little gem was just over one hour drive from Chiang Mai so skipping it was simply not an option. Its outlandish name Bua Tong Sticky Waterfall can be spelt in a variety of ways. Nam Phu Chet Si, Buatong, Buathong are the most common names amongst Thais.
Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls is an informal name used predominantly by the expats and only a handful of locals will have a slight clue of what you are talking about. It goes without saying that using this name amongst locals will probably take you nowhere so stick to Buatong or Namphu Chetsi.
Namphu Chetsi can literally be translated into ‘spring of seven colours’ and it refers to waterfall’s several levels that, when in contact with the sun, apparently change colours.
Nam Phu – spring
Chet Si – seven colours
Buatong – golden flower
Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls vs. Other Waterfalls In Chiang Mai Area
If you are in Thailand to discover for yourself what stunning landscapes nature can create, you are in the right place. There are many waterfalls in Chiang Mai province to choose from unless you are in the dry season and may experience shortage of water.
Anyway, back to what I was saying, you should really know why this limestone fall trip to Namphu Chetsi may turn into one of the best day trips from Chiang Mai. For all those nature lovers out there, this waterfall is a mineral geyser with calcium-carbonate as part of its natural composition which makes it stand out from the rest.
Its secret lies in the sandstone encrusted falls with limestone being deposited on top of the rocks. Thanks to this wonder, you may well be feeling that your suddenly developed physics-defying natural powers allow you to stand firmly on the rocks with or without any footwear despite relatively strong downfall water flow.
I may disappoint you and unveil the truth about this baffling process. It is the pumice-like porous, creamy-coloured rocks that can easily absorb gases. The surface is quite rough but even, making it easy to step on without slipping. It almost feels like you are wearing Velcro soles when wearing footwear.
The crystal clear water passing through the round-shaped stones of Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls gives an impression of a giant foam coming down the rocks to any passers-by. This unusual sight makes for a great scenery whether you want to dip only your feet for the photoshoot or get fully wet.
At first, I was a little sceptical on what to expect from the water splashing those allegedly sticky rocks so I did not immerse myself fully (literally testing the waters!). A few minutes later, I was climbing the Namphu Chetsi waterfall all the way up and then down a few times to claim some of my well overdue workout done.
If you’ve been slacking over God forbid the past days or weeks, you can redeem your filthy soul in these pure limestone waters. Picking the more arduous route with ropes you can substitute your typical TRX workout. Trust me, you will enjoy this trip.
Overall, you are good to stand upright for most of your climbing experience up to the top of each level of Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls except for some tinged with a touch of green slimy spots covered with algae. Luckily, there are ropes to hold onto which make up for the health and safety regulations provided in Thai standards.
Best time to see Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls
Seasonal Factors: Weather In Chiang Mai
Sticky falls are located within the Nature Park called Chetsi Spring Forest Park (map). Owing to being shaded from the sun, staying out for a few hours will not be a problem. During cloudy or even rainy days (like the day we happened to pick), trees will form a natural shield from raindrops so you are covered.
We went there during Thai winter time when the air is a little cooler but this spot is not weather dependent. Once you dip in the water, you will probably want to stay for quite some time and enjoy luscious green surroundings within Nam Phu Chet Si Nature Park.
Best Time Of The Day: Mornings
We were lucky to get to Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls during quieter times (that is 10-10.30am) which allowed us to have the park, waterfalls and ropes for a few hours almost to ourselves. Arrive around 1pm and you will end up sharing the same rope with 15 other people and your experience may be a bit different.
The ropes are tied up to the small to mid-size trees near the top of each level, the ties are quite sturdy. Anyway, you wouldn’t want to put excess weight on both ropes and trees so best to climb when it’s quieter so you won’t feel like you’re being pushed for time and space.
Also, I will repeat myself but I’m doing it for your own sake. Bring your swimwear so you don’t end up like many not informed people in the picture below who were eager to climb up the waterfall despite being fully clothed. At least you won’t be feeling cold on your way back home.
Chiang Mai to Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls Your To Do List: No. 1 Time To Chill Out
Get soaked in the limestone Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls, work your core muscles, don’t run or try to use waterfalls as your make-shift waterpark slide (we saw some kids and adults who attempted those two. It may be fun but not when you fall. Ouch!), chill out, socialise, check out a tiny emerald pond at the very bottom of falls, stroll around the resort, enjoy the nature, have a healthy snack, get back in one piece rejuvenated.
It may not be an issue to some but this place is quite secluded from civilisation. Upon approaching the Nature Park, you will not see any food places nor Western style toilets. Remember to carry spare tissues with you and some hand sanitiser. The toilets are not the most appealing ones and you will be forced to do some squatting!
On the other hand, no one will bother you with souvenirs from Thailand as this is not a typical touristic trap. In fact, some spots may be quite empty. When we arrived there was only a group of Thai school kids running in their uniforms, excited to have a day off from school.
Despite no food stalls within unknown radius, you will come across numerous ‘fine signs’ for anyone who will eat within the park. Seeing that you’ll spend some time out in Bua Tong falls, be considerate and don’t litter. Pick up your rubbish or eat in the car.
Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls Directions
When you do decide to ask a local driver about the way up there, make sure you have the name typed in your phone. Alternatively, here’s the map on how to get to Bua Thong from Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai:
DIRECTIONS FROM THA PHAE GATE
The journey can be done on a motorbike or songthaew. We chose to hire a driver who took us for 1400 Baht. Using a motorbike will work out to be the cheapest option and you do not need to depend on anyone to go with you or take you to the place.
However, hiring a songthaew (a red or yellow track) can be as cost effective as using a bike and equally as fun. If you are new to Chiang Mai, spread the word about your plan to see the waterfall. Trust me, you will be heard. There will always be people keen to join you if you arrange transportation to Sticky Waterfalls just as we did.
We left Chiang Mai in a group of 7, significantly reducing the cost per head to as little as 200 baht there and back, That’s dirt cheap. Well, only if you have a valid health insurance. On the way to the falls our driver went a bit nuts and thought he would entertain us with driving at full speed, perhaps to let his excitement out and save some of his precious time.
However, before we left Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls, we politely suggested to him not to repeat the journey in his favourite free spirited fashion, on our way back to Chiang Mai.
Overall, during this trip we got to see beautiful scenery and we met new people. A productive way to exchange our views and experience on our experiences in Thailand, travelling around the world and working remotely, bouncing off some ideas from each other whilst doing something different. After all, is this not what you are in Thailand for?
Final Thoughts On A Trip To Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls
Recap – Your Ultimate Day Trip To Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai
- Just over an hour’s drive from the city in Mae Taeng district (link in a new window to Google maps)
- This natural site showcases a natural limestone waterfall which makes it easy to climb
- Convenient and beginner-friendly climbing spots, thanks to the mineral coating which makes the surface surprisingly non-slippery
- An ideal place for a water workout so bring towels, swimwear, some footwear and post-workout snacks
- Opening hours 6am – 6pm daily
Before You Go
- Save the name and map for you or your driver
- Leave early to avoid crowds in the waterfalls around midday
What To Pack
- snacks / lunch
- flip flops
- swimwear / spare clothes
- money for your driver/petrol
- hand sanitiser
Recommended trip duration
- Half a day. Allocate 1-1.30h each way and about 2-3 hours in Bua Thong. If you are not planning to enjoy sticky rock climbing experience, 1.30h will be plenty.
If you feel like there is anything else you’d want to clarify before you head out to Bua Thong sticky waterfalls, here I am waiting for your comments. Remember to check out our Guide on Best Things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand here – it covers places most people don’t know they even exist!
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